Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is a North American, G1 stakes horse race that is run each year at Baltimore Maryland’s Pimlico Race Course. It has long been known as the second jewel in the coveted Triple Crown series of horse racing; the others being the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes. It is open only to 3-year old thoroughbreds and the field is limited to 14 horses. Entry to the race is granted according to graded stakes earnings. The race is always run on the 3rd Saturday of May, after the Kentucky Derby, but before the Belmont Stakes.

Often referred to as “The Run for the Black-Eyed Susans” because the winner is blanketed with flowers altered to look like the state flower of Maryland, which is out of season at race time. The Preakness is ranked second in attendance of all the North American horse races with only the Kentucky Derby drawing larger crowds. The race is 1 3/16 miles long, ½ furlong shorter than the Derby and 2 ½ furlongs less than the Belmont.

Preakness History and Facts

The first Preakness Stakes was run on May 27, 1873 and drew just seven horses to start. The race was named by Maryland’s Governor at the time, Oden Bowie, for a colt who finished first in the Dinner Party Stakes on Pimlico’s opening day. The winner of the very first Preakness Stakes was Survivor, owned by Jonh Chamberlain, and he collected the winning purse of $2,050 dollars, winning easily by 10 lengths. This margin of victory was the largest until 2004, when a horse named Smarty Jones led the pack by 11 ½ lengths when he crossed the finish line.

In 1890, the Preakness was hosted by Morris Park Racecourse. Located in the Bronx, New York, there was no age restriction on this race and it was run with handicapped conditions. This means that favored, or more experienced and accomplished horses are assigned to carry additional weight. The Preakness was won that year by a 5-year old thoroughbred named Montague. For the following three years, there was no Preakness run and for the 15 years between 1894 and 1908, it was held at the Gravesend Racetrack located in Coney Island, NY. In 1909 the Preakness returned to Pimlico.

There have been seven occasions on which the Preakness Stakes has been run with handicap conditions, where certain horses carried more weight than others. The first instance was in 1890 and the other five occasions were in the years 1910 through 1915 and during these years it was called the Preakness Handicap rather than the Preakness Stakes.

In 2009, the owners of Pimlico filed for bankruptcy opening up the possibility that the Preakness may have to be moved again. That same year, a plan by the Maryland Legislature was approved to buy the Pimlico racecourse if no other buyer could be found so that the Preakness could remain in its historic home.

There are various bits of trivia and tradition associated with the Preakness, some more well-known than others.

  • As soon as the horses are called to the post, the audience is prompted to sing Maryland’s official state song, “Maryland, My Maryland. The Baltimore Colts Marching Band traditionally led the song, however the Glee Club of the United States Naval Academy leads it today.
    As soon as the winner has been officially declared, a painter climbs up to paint the horse and jockey that are on the Clubhouse weather vane with the colors of the winning silks.
    The track record was set by Secretariat in 1973. The time of 1:53 was disputed, but the matter was officially resolved in 2012 at a meeting of the Maryland Race Commission.
    The largest margin of victory was set by Smarty Jones in 2004 when he won by 11 ½ lengths.
    Most wins by a single jockey is 6, by Eddie Arcara.
    The most winning trainer is R. Wyndham Walden with 7 winners trained for the Preakness.
    Only five fillies have ever won the Preakness.

Preakness Betting Strategies

The Preakness gives bettors more than their fair share of chances when it comes to horse betting values. It adds some unique factors into the mix that play into the odds more in comparison to some of the other marquee races.

The race will have those horses that are just coming out of a 2 week “layoff” after the Derby, but don’t discount the horses who didn’t run for the roses. Many of the newcomers are there in hopes of scooping up the second jewel in the Triple Crown and making a name for themselves. In addition, the shorter track may give the less experienced horses a greater chance of taking home a prize at the Preakness even if they didn’t perform well in the Derby.